May 19, 2018 — After their first bye of the 2018 season, the San Diego Growlers hosted the Los Angeles Aviators to decide first place in the West Division. The fans at Balboa Stadium knew these SoCal rivals well and were ready for another exciting, hard-fought battle.
San Diego started the game with a deep shot from Will Turner to Scott Radlauer, but Los Angeles answered with a score plus two breaks in a row to go up 3-1. Michael Tran assisted to Dom Leggio on a cross-field flick on offense, then after LA turnovers, Mark Slader’s backhand huck found a diving Sam Fontaine for a break to tie the game 3-3. The teams traded, the Growlers scored a break point, and the Aviators scored last in the quarter for a 5-5 tie.
In the second quarter, the Aviators scored on offense then took advantage of two miscues to take the 8-5 lead. Max Hume stopped the bleeding with an offensive goal, then the Growlers got a break back with a Tim Okita flick to Tran, 8-7. The game of runs continued when LA scored on O then backed it up with a break, up 10-7. The teams traded to end the half with LA in the lead 11-8.
The Growlers dug a hole for themselves to start the third quarter with two turnovers that LA converted into break scores, 13-8. Steven Milardovich caught a goal on the next SD possession, then each team traded 5 scores. San Diego increased their defensive pressure and finally secured a break on a big backhand assist from Zeke Ivers to Marcel Osborne, now down just 18-15.
A couple of trades began the fourth quarter, highlighted by two deep connections from Travis Dunn to Wes Groth. The Aviators scored, then made the Growlers pay for a turnover again with a break to extend their lead to 22-17. The teams traded a couple of lengthy points, which did not leave enough time on the clock for a comeback. The Aviators won 25-20 to take first place in the West Division. Click here for video highlights and here for pictures!
The Growlers were led by Travis Dunn at +7 (6 assists, 1 goal, 0 turnovers) and Wes Groth (4 goals, 0 turnovers) with a +4 performance.
San Diego’s next home game is Saturday, June 2 versus the defending AUDL Champion San Francisco FlameThrowers at Mission Bay High School at 6:30 pm.